Driven by the goal of reducing fossil fuel use and pollution, ORNL’s clean energy research plays a pivotal role in America’s energy future. Scientists and engineers are applying the knowledge they gain from these studies to develop and deploy real-world solutions for energy security and protecting the environment.
From exploring the genetics of poplar trees for use in biofuel production to uncovering the potential for using byproducts of this process in advanced materials for automotive and wind technologies, clean energy research spans ORNL disciplines including biological and environmental sciences, advanced materials, neutron sciences, nuclear sciences, and high-performance computing, and brings multidisciplinary teams together to address key issues.
That means moving well beyond engine efficiency in studying the vehicles of the future, for instance. ORNL scientists also look at alternate power sources, more efficient materials, methods for reducing a vehicle’s weight and increasing its safety. Such a broad effort requires materials scientists, engineers, chemists and other experts with different backgrounds, linked in an integrated and multidisciplinary approach. It’s what makes ORNL unique.
By embracing industry partnerships to advance clean energy technologies, ORNL is promoting domestic manufacturing and job growth. For example, collaborative research into the energy efficiency of buildings resulted in the development and production of GE’s GeoSpring hybrid water, which began rolling off their Louisville, Kentucky, assembly line in 2012. This advanced water heater uses 62 percent less energy and is more economical to operate than conventional models.
Also, through resources such as the Climate Change Science Institute and popular online tools such as www.fueleconomy.gov, clean energy research is helping people to make informed decisions by providing them with a more detailed understanding of renewable resources, the climate and environment, and the technologies we rely on every day.